Clean-up, power outages continue over Easter weekend after Cyclone Cook
The long weekend will be anything but relaxing for residents of areas hammered by Cyclone Cook, as they continue the clean-up of damage to their homes from downed trees and flooding.
Thousands are still without electricity in several parts of the country, with closed roads hampering the ability of power restoration crews to reach some areas.
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The storm has now passed south of New Zealand, but it could be weeks, or longer, before life returns to normal in the worst-hit areas.
BAY OF PLENTY
In Bay of Plenty, some 1500 customers remain without power across Whakatane, Kawerau and Opotiki, and it could be three days before they're back on the grid.
Horizon Energy said its staff were working through the night where possible to fix outages, and it had brought in extra staff for repairs.
However, further rain over the weekend could cause restoration delays or more outages.
"Unfortunately given the widespread damage caused, customers should plan to be without power for up to 3 days," the company said, advising dairy farmers and businesses to make arrangements to install generators.
SH2 between Awakeri and Opotiki was closed due to slips, and at Edgecumbe, due to flooding from Cyclone Debbie last week. SH34 from Edgecumbe to Te Teko was also closed, due to downed power lines.
Whakatane District Council asked residents to conserve water, and boil notices were in place in Taneatua, Te Mahoe, Ruatoki, and the Rangitaiki Plains.
Locals were urged not to wash mud or silt from their homes or properties into drains, because those could block pipes and cause more flooding in further rain.
Instead, they were advised to pile mud and silt on the berms outside their properties for collection.
Although wastewater was functioning in Edgecumbe, portaloos were also in the town "as a secondary measure". Residents were asked to conserve and boil water.
Residents were asked to delay taking rubbish to Whakatane Transfer Station until Sunday because it was full of storm-related debris.
Tankers of drinking water would be stationed in several areas from 3pm on Saturday:
* Rūātoki: at Rūātoki School
* Tāneatua: by the school, and by the skate park
* Waimana: by the shops
* Edgecumbe: by the Riverslea Mall and by the War Memorial Hall.
Residents should take their own containers to fill.
The council would spend the weekend removing fallen trees from public areas.
Road damage in Whakatane after Cyclone Cook. PHOTO: WHAKATANE DISTRICT COUNCIL
The Mauao base track at Mt Maunganui remains closed after several new slips and ocean swells caused further damage, following Cyclone Debbie.
Tauranga District Council planned to reopen part of the track on the beach side on Friday afternoon, as reopening Moturiki Island.
"However, much of the [Mauao] track will remain closed until at least next week and the Pilot Bay end, where a slip occurred during an earlier severe weather event, will still remain closed for at least some weeks," the council said.
Motorists were also urged to take care in Rotorua, where two large underslips - where part of the road falls away - had been found on Paradise Valley Road after the cyclone.
In Hawke's Bay, about 1600 properties are still without power after wild winds brought down trees and power lines on Thursday night.
Lines company Unison described it as "network devastation". Its crews had had difficulty reaching some areas, after fallen trees and slips made roads impassable.
The company advised customers it may take up to eight hours for hot water to return.
"Our priority is to focus on getting the power connected first, and once this is completed, we will turn our attention to get the hot water circuits repaired, which we hope to get underway later today."
Napier and Hastings District Councils have organised free green waste disposal over the weekend, so residents can get rid of trees and branches downed by the cyclone.
Old State Highway 38 remains closed between Aniwaniwa and Murupara due to slips.
Hawke's Bay Regional Council advised Pakowhai Regional Park was closed due to major tree damage from the storm.
Eastland Group said crews will continue restoration work early on Saturday, but due to "access issues and the sheer number of faults in some areas", some customers may have to wait until Sunday or Monday.
Motorists were urged to drive with extra care on SH35 to Tolaga Bay due to slips.
Tauwhareparae Road at Doonholm, about 17.5km from SH35 at Tolaga Bay will remain closed for several days due to a large slip that had blocked the entire road.
A large slip has blocked both lanes of Tauwhareparae Road at Doonholm. PHOTO: GISBORNE DISTRICT COUNCIL
WAIKATO AND THAMES-COROMANDEL
Further north, several roads are closed in eastern Waikato and Thames-Coromandel after heavy rain caused severe flooding.
In Whangamata, SH25 is closed north of the Moana-anu-anu River Bridge due to a large slip blocking both lanes of the road, and between Tararu and Preece Point due to several slips.
The Waihou and Piako Rivers reached record height levels in Hauraki and Matamata-Piako District after Cyclone Cook passed through, and record flows are expected to continue throughout Easter weekend.
Civil Defence teams and the Rural Support Trust were assisting flood-hit farmers, while residents of those areas were asked to minimise their water usage.
Multiple roads and footbridges remain closed after slips and flooding on Friday. However, it was expected many would reopen on Saturday, with only a few showers forecast.
Motorists were urged to drive with care on SH1 at Seddon after flooding, and SH63 at Takaka Hill due to slips.
Canterbury is due a mostly fine day after heavy rain brought flooding on Friday. Floodwaters in Christchurch had been expected to recede during Friday night.